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Toxic hand sanitizers from this Mexican company should be tossed, FDA warns

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This brand of hand sanitizer implies Canadian origins on the front label, but lists a red-flagged Mexican manufacturer on the back label. Photo: Courtesy

A number of Mexican-made hand sanitizer gel brands are dangerous because they contain large amounts of poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The methanol “can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested,” and recommended consumers dispose of nine brands of gel sanitizers made by ESK Biochem SA de CV in Guanajuato.

The following products manufactured by ESK Biochem were identified by the FDA as potentially toxic:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

The FDA said one of the brands contained 81% methanol and no ethyl alcohol, which is the drinkable kind.

Late last week the FDA said it had contacted ESK Biochem “to recommend the company remove its hand sanitizer products from the market due to the risks associated with methanol poisoning,” but the firm hadn’t done so. The company did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment.

“Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk,” the FDA said young children who accidentally ingest it or adults who drink it as an ethyl alcohol substitute are also at risk.

Methanol is a poisonous cousin of the ethyl alcohol in normal liquors and cannot be smelled or tasted in drinks. It causes organ and brain damage and can be fatal, and its symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness and even coma.

Methanol poisoning from adulterated liquor has cost more than 100 lives in Mexico since the coronavirus pandemic began.

As part of coronavirus lockdowns, many towns and states banned legitimate liquor sales, and many people also lost their jobs and apparently became unable to buy legitimate beer, wine or spirits.

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